By Sandra Nelson
So you’ve been considering adding a water feature to your backyard, but haven’t quite decided if it’s the right decision for you. Having enjoyed ponds and streams, waterfalls and fountains in my yards for decades, I can give you lots of reasons why adding water to the landscape is a great idea.
A water feature adds beauty to the yard. It not only provides striking visual interest, but can also fill the space with soothing sounds.
A water feature adds curb appeal to a home, making it more marketable.
A water feature attracts wildlife. Birds flock to water, butterflies come to rest on water’s edges, frogs move in and small creatures come to drink at dawn and dusk.
A water feature adds another texture to the landscape. Unlike the stiff, unrelenting lines of architectural elements and hardscapes, the fluid nature of water relaxes the eye.
Most importantly though, water features help us stay healthy. For decades, research studies from around the world have shown that spending time in nature’s green space is vital to our health and welfare. What psychologists and environmental researchers are discovering now is that there is another aspect of nature that is crucial for wellness. Access to natural aquatic features such as lakes, rivers, streams and coastal waters — known as blue spaces — are believed to bolster our mental health and reduce our stress levels.
A long term Irish study revealed that people 50 and over had a “lower risk of depression with blue space visibility,” while a 2018 study showed that people who regularly visit blue spaces self-report strong feelings of well-being and had fewer bouts of depression. Other studies have identified a positive relationship between blue space interventions and successful treatments of PTSD and breast cancer. Watching the flow and listening to the sounds of moving water helps us regulate our internal rhythms and soothes stressed nervous systems. Water has a calming effect.
While most of us don’t have daily access to natural bodies of water like lakes and rivers, we can create our own healthy blue spaces simply by adding water features to our landscapes. Whether large or small, elaborate or simple, including water features in our landscapes will bring a welcome peacefulness to our highly stressed lives.
Choosing a water feature for the yard used to be an easy task because there weren’t many alternatives for the average homeowner. Today, a huge variety of options — everything from ponds and streams to fountains, bubblers, jets and walls of water — are flooding the market (yes, pun intended). Deciding on exactly the right water feature for your lifestyle and your space can be tricky. The design staff at Embassy Landscape Group has some advice to help you get started.
The first consideration when choosing a water feature is your end goal.
- Do you envision a tranquil spot to sit quietly and watch an expanse of water, or do you picture a graceful fountain on the patio?
- Are you hoping that the sound of falling water will soften the harsh sounds of traffic or drown out the neighbors choice of music?
- Do you picture watching wildlife come to visit or seeing the flash of brightly colored koi as they swim by?
- Are you recreating a mountain stream or creating a private courtyard?
Hand in hand with your goal is the location of your water feature.
- Does your dream fit in with the reality of your space and your existing landscape?
- Will there be enough sun if you dream of fragrant water lilies?
- Will the feature overwhelm a small space or get lost in a large one?
- Will the placement interfere with sidewalks, patios or utility lines?
- Are trees in the way?
- Will it potentially be placed in a low spot that could get runoff after a rain?
- Is the placement the best for viewing?
- Is there easy access to electricity and water?
Safety and maintenance are other aspects to think about.
- Will small children or pets routinely play around the water?
- Will they always be supervised?
- Does it cross a high traffic area?
- How much maintenance are you comfortable doing?
- Do the costs of routine upkeep fit into your budget?
We hope that this will help get you started thinking about adding a water feature to your landscape.
Join us next week we look at the pros and cons of some of the more popular water features available today. See you then!